A case-control study of ambient heat exposure and urolithiasis among outdoor workers in a shipbuilding company, Guangzhou, China

Luo, Haiming (2012) A case-control study of ambient heat exposure and urolithiasis among outdoor workers in a shipbuilding company, Guangzhou, China. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Higher ambient temperatures will increase heat stress on workers, leading to impacts upon their individual health and productivity. In particular, research has indicated that higher ambient temperatures can increase the prevalence of urolithiasis. This thesis examines the relationship between ambient heat exposure and urolithiasis among outdoor workers in a shipbuilding company in Guangzhou, China, and makes recommendations for minimising the possible impacts of high ambient temperatures on urolithiasis.

A retrospective 1:4 matched case-control study was performed to investigate the association between ambient heat exposure and urolithiasis. Ambient heat exposure was characterised by total exposure time, type of work, department and length of service. The data were obtained from the affiliated hospital of the shipbuilding company under study for the period 2003 to 2010. A conditional logistic regression model was used to estimate the association between heat exposure and urolithiasis.

This study found that the odds ratio (OR) of urolithiasis for total exposure time was 1.5 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.2–1.8). Eight types of work in the shipbuilding company were investigated, including welder, assembler, production security and quality inspector, planing machine operator, spray painter, gas-cutting worker and indoor employee. Five out of eight types of work had significantly higher risks for urolithiasis, and four of the five mainly consisted of outdoors work with ORs of 4.4 (95% CI: 1.7–11.4) for spray painter, 3.8 (95% CI: 1.9–7.2) for welder, 2.7 (95% CI: 1.4–5.0) for production security and quality inspector, and 2.2 (95% CI: 1.1–4.3) for assembler, compared to the reference group (indoor employee). Workers with abnormal blood pressure (hypertension) were more likely to have urolithiasis with an OR of 1.6 (95% CI: 1.0–2.5) compared to those without hypertension.

This study contributes to the understanding of the association between ambient heat exposure and urolithiasis among outdoor workers in China. In the context of global climate change, this is particularly important because rising temperatures are expected to increase the prevalence of urolithiasis among outdoor workers, putting greater pressure on productivity, occupational health management and health care systems. The results of this study have clear implications for public health policy and planning, as they indicate that more attention is required to protect outdoor workers from heat-related urolithiasis.

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ID Code: 54756
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Tong, Shilu
Keywords: ambient heat exposure, case-control study, conditional logistic regression, Guangzhou, outdoor worker, urolithiasis
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 13 Nov 2012 00:44
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2015 11:06

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